A Note from Goodwill of the Heartland CEO, Pat Airy
As a Goodwill friend and supporter, you already know that we operate as a nonprofit charitable organization and that we rely on our retail stores to fund our mission -advancing the social and economic wellbeing of people who experience barriers to independence. Due to COVID-19, our retail stores and most of our programs were closed for an extended period of time. At the end of April, 93% of our workforce, about 600 people, were on temporary layoff. Because the number of people we employ is over 500, we did not qualify for any of the federal assistance available to smaller businesses and nonprofits.
Our stores reopened in phases throughout May and June. While donations have been strong and sales are regaining ground, we already know that we will finish the year with a significant financial loss. We are understandably concerned because we also know that the need for our employment assistance programs will be greater than ever. Job security and future employment prospects are a concern for so many right now. COVID-19 has caused people to experience job loss in record numbers, maybe for the first time in their lives. Our goal is to be a leader in getting people back to work and skilling people up for good-paying, in-demand jobs. We’ve already taken steps to move some of our industry-specific certification programs online, offering greater flexibility and safety for participants. Learn more about our certification programs.
I want to recognize the Goodwill team members and departments that met important needs and kept our organization going over the past few months, at the height of a global health crisis. Many people with disabilities rely on our assistance to live independently within their community. They may need help with getting groceries, transport to appointments, cleaning and cooking, bill paying and more. Our Supported Community Living team members adapted and innovated services and implemented new safety measures so they could continue to work with these individuals. We also had dedicated team members that continued to provide workplace coaching to people in our supported employment programs, and in the face of so many new and ever-changing challenges. Without job coaching, these individuals could have lost jobs they love, jobs that they worked so hard to get.
Our e-commerce and facility and community contracts team members never skipped a beat. They continued to come to work as usual and were essential to generating much-needed income for our organization during an uncertain and critical time. These are the people that process and post goods for sale on our shopgoodwill.com site, working from our corporate office in Iowa City. Online sales remained strong while our stores were closed, thanks to their efforts. These are also the team members that provide labor for the light manufacturing contract work that we do for area businesses at our Cedar Rapids facility. Business partners like Whirlpool were still open and still dependent on the work we do and the parts we supply. These are also the team members that work in cleaning roles through our custodial contracts with area federal buildings. Their services became especially important during this time of heightened sanitation.
We also had to open our new vegetable oil packaging plant in Coralville without a traditional celebratory public event to mark the milestone, due to COVID-19. (Our Goodwill received a federal contract to package oil for the USDA to support global hunger relief efforts.) This undertaking was a long-time coming, a multi-year/multi-million dollar endeavor. A core group of committed individuals overcame a myriad of unforeseen obstacles, kept this project going and got us to the finish line – a major accomplishment against the backdrop of a pandemic.
They are often not on the front lines of our mission or in visible public roles, but our administrative support functions are in countless ways, the backbone of our operations. These are the people working in finance, human resources, marketing, office support, information technology, safety and facility maintenance. Many were partially laid-off, but still willing to work when needed. They paid our bills; kept us connected to the public and our team members; answered questions from shoppers, donors, employees and program participants; implemented new safety measures throughout our organization; and so much more.
I also want to recognize our retail store and logistical support team members that were ready to return to work when they got the call, some in May and some in June. In the time that they were apart from their jobs with Goodwill, our world changed in previously unimaginable ways. They came back to a workplace full of face masks and a host of other new safety protocols to follow. Every day they are problem-solving, persevering and providing the top-notch service that we are known for by our donors and shoppers. Their efforts make our mission possible.
The remainder of our Mission Services programs will continue to reopen over the coming months with the utmost safety in mind. It will be quite some time though before we are back-to-business as normal. In fact, normal may never be the same. We are using this opportunity to come back as the best possible, mission-focused, version of ourselves as an organization. We need your support though.
Please consider an online financial donation to help us through this difficult period. Your assistance will also ensure that we are ready to meet the increased demand for our employment services that we know is coming. Any amount is helpful and is sincerely appreciated.
Thank you Goodwill friends and supporters. We remain strong in spirit, united in mission and know that you are standing beside us during this time of unprecedented challenge.
Effective Wednesday, July 1, 2020, our 16 store locations will be open: Monday - Saturday, 10 am - 7 pm. Sundays, 11 am - 5 pm. Our Washington, Iowa store remains temporarily closed.
If you plan to visit our stores listed above, please note the safety measures we will have in place:
- We’ll be requiring that face masks be worn by both our employees and shoppers.
- We’ve installed plexiglass sneeze guards at our cash registers.
- We’ll have a no-touch donations drop off, where donors will place their sorted donations directly into gaylord boxes.
- We’ll quarantine donations before processing them for the sales floor.
- We’ll station a greeter at the front entrance to sanitize carts, welcome shoppers and explain our new protocols (mask requirement, social distancing, etc.).
- We’ll use floor tape to designate places for customers to stand (6 feet apart) in line at our registers.
- We’ll close dressing rooms and turn off drinking fountains.
- We’ll engage in regular cleaning and disinfecting of public and employee areas throughout the day.
We value your donations and ask that you please not leave donations outside in the elements while our stores are closed. Please use one of our convenient store drive-thrus to make your donation during regular hours of operation.
You can also support our mission by shopping online. We are open for business 24/7 at shopgoodwill.com
We are implementing a “contactless” procedure for all local pick-up orders. When you arrive, please remain outside and call us at 319-739-5014. This is a new number which rings directly to our e-commerce department. We will bring your items outside the front entrance and allow you to retrieve your purchases from a cart. We will no longer be asking for a signature when you pick up your items. Our team members will be required to wear a face mask; please also consider wearing a face mask when you come for a pick up.
Helms Career Centers
Our Career Centers located inside of our Clinton, Muscatine and Keokuk, Iowa stores and our Moline, Illinois store remain temporarily closed.
Day Habilitation Centers
Our Day Habilitation programs in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and the Quad Cities resumed operation in July. Our programs in Clinton and Burlington are permanently closed.